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DBT announces 2024 CEO of the Year honorees

Katie Tabeling
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WILMINGTON — Delaware Business Times is excited to announce the 2024 honorees of its fourth annual CEO of the Year program.

The awards program honors the efforts of Delaware’s top-ranking business leaders in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors. The winners, chosen by an independent judging panel, will be honored at a June 27 reception and awards presentation at the Christiana Hilton in Newark. Tickets are now available.

The annual award program also features a Milestone Award winner, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated significant and sustained success while leading a business or nonprofit organization in Delaware. Honorees also make positive contributions to the state’s community as a whole. The 2024 Milestone Award winner is Terri Kelly.

 

Terri Kelly. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NEMOURS FOUNDATION

Terri Kelly. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NEMOURS FOUNDATION

Kelly served as the President and CEO of W.L. Gore & Associates for 13 years (2008-2015). Gore is a global company that generates roughly $3 billion in annual revenue from products like Gore-Tex fabric, medical devices, cables used in space exploration and more. Well-known for its innovative corporate structure where most Gore employees are known as associates, Kelly was nominated by a wide-range of associates inside the company.

 

Kelly worked for the company her entire career, starting as a product specialist and working her way up to lead several divisions and opening a manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China — Gore’s first fabrics plant in Asia. As Gore’s fourth CEO, Kelly oversaw $3 billion in revenue and 10,000 employees around the world. In Delaware, she has served on a number of boards, including the University of Delaware Board of Trustees and the Alfred I. duPont Charitable Trust which oversees the Nemours Foundation. She also supports the United Way, Reach Riverside and Serviam Academy which provides tuition-free middle school education to underrepresented girls.

The Large For-Profit CEO of the Year honoree is Chip Rossi, president of Bank of America Delaware. As one of the 90 market leaders, Rossi leads nearly 6,000

Chip Rossi | PHOTO COURTESY OF BANK OF AMERICA

employees that manage $2.7 billion in deposits and $1.9 billion in commercial loans, not including $40 million loans to small businesses. When Bank of America grew to be a major player in the First State after the acquisition of the former MBNA Bank, Rossi remained in his home state and made significant inroads with Delaware leaders to reach underserved populations. He also serves on the boards of Delaware State University, Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County, Delaware Technical Community College Development Committee and many more.

 

Patti Grimes | PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JOSHUA M. FREEMAN FOUNDATION

The Large Nonprofit CEO of the Year honoree is Patti Grimes, the executive director of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation. For 17 years, the Freeman Foundation has overseen high-quality cultural and arts experiences for visitors and students in Sussex County. Since Grimes became its leader in 2009, the Freeman Arts Pavilion has drawn a half a million visitors. The Freeman Foundation also partners with schools and community partners for its Arts Access Initiative, where students in the southern Delaware region have access to live music, dance, comedy and much more year-round. Grimes is currently taking on a $26 million capital plan and eventual construction of a new Freeman Arts Pavilion.

The Medium For-Profit CEO of the Year honoree is Andrew Cottone, the president and CEO of Adesis, Inc. A trained chemist who dreamed of

Andrew Cottone | PHOTO COURTESY OF ADESIS

building a world-class company, Cottone co-founded Adesis that today works with Universal Display Corporation to develop diodes that are the foundation for modern TV and computer screens. Since he became CEO in 2016, Cottone has worked to grow the company to 100,000 square feet of laboratory space and has grown revenue by 400%. Outside the office, Cottone serves on the Board of Directors for the Delaware Bioscience Association and is well-known for his passion for STEM and education. He is also a major proponent of Delaware’s role in the green hydrogen economy, in hopes of creating a manufacturing plant here to create clean energy.

Jamar Rahming | PHOTO COURTESY OF WHL

The Medium Nonprofit CEO of the Year honoree is Jamar Rahming, the executive director of the Wilmington Public Library. Recognized as a “mover and shakers” by the Library Journal in 2023, Rahming has worked to cultivate a strong event roster with speakers such as LeVar Burton, Dolly Parton, Dennis Rodman, Misty Copeland and more. Since his arrival six years ago, Rahming has worked to transform the Wilmington Public Library network, which spans two locations, to a modern center of education and culture. He has also worked to connect with the local community, such as launching partnerships with barbershops on literacy programs as well as “Pitch or Ditch” competition with the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce. As a capstone, the Wilmington Public Library was awarded the 2022 National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Small For-Profit CEO of the Year honoree is Ronald Berry, the managing partner of Social Contract. Recognized as one of the top 2,000 fastest growing companies

Ronald Berry | PHOTO COURTESY OF SOCIAL CONTRACT

by Inc. magazine in 2023, Social Contract works with community and corporate leaders to find solutions to complex problems. Berry worked his way from contract administrator to managing the firm alongside Meghan Wallace within three years. Berry has helped build programs that create better partnerships between the public and private sectors here in Delaware, among others. Notably, he also helped the Delaware Division of Social Services develop its Community Partnership Support Unit. That unit later became critical in supporting people who were displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic with case management, transportation and food. 

Jennifer Cohan | PHOTO COURTESY OF LEADERSHIP DELAWARE

The Small Nonprofit CEO of the Year honoree is Jennifer Cohan, CEO of Leadership Delaware, an organization that recruits and mentors the best and brightest outstanding Delawareans, who can and will transform their communities and the state. As its second leader after its founder stepped down after 20 years, Cohan expanded Leadership Delaware’s reach throughout Kent and Sussex counties and forged a partnership with the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce to create a pipeline with the Kent County counterpart, Leadership Central Delaware. The nonprofit also added a teen mentoring program as well as a leadership skill-building seminar. She is stepping down from Leadership Delaware at the end of 2024.

 

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